NJ DEP issues boil water advisory for Hoboken in wake of 16-inch water main break


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a boil water advisory for Hoboken late this evening in wake of a 16-inch water main break on Monday.

Twitter photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The boil water advisory was issued by NJDEP as a result of fluctuations in water pressure caused by efforts to stabilize service in Hoboken after a water main break on February 27,” a statement issued by Veolia Water says.

“The NJDEP boil water order is in effect until further notice. Veolia will notify Hoboken customers when the order is lifted. Customers should boil their water before using it for drinking or cooking purposes.”

The advisory goes on to say the advisory, which requires boiling water for one minute and allowing it to cool before using, applies for essentially all home uses besides showering and/or washing clothes, even if their water is filtered at home.

“The advisory is in effect due to fluctuations of water pressure in the system. Low water pressure could potentially allow for the presence of harmful microbes in the system,” the advisory also reads.

“Microbes in drinking water can cause illness and could pose a special health risk for infants, some elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems … Veolia will also continue to collect samples and monitor water quality in the distribution system. The company will work with the DEP to inform residents when the boil water is lifted.”

In a subsequent Nixle alert, the city expressed frustration that Veolia had not alerted them of a potential issue sooner.

“The City relied on these professional assurances from Veolia, the manager of Hoboken’s water system, and their assurances that the water was safe to drink, which the City then communicated to the public,” the message reads.

“Had the City been alerted to any pressure readings by Veolia that would have required a boil water advisory (when the system water pressure goes below 20 PSI) the City would have promptly communicated it to the public. The City was only alerted to this reading after the water main was isolated by Veolia, late this evening.”

The advisory was unexpected, coming over 48 hours after a contractor for PSE&G hit a water main near the Hoboken and Jersey City border on Monday, leading to the Hoboken Office of Emergency Management issuing a statement of emergency.

That led to municipal offices and schools being closed on Tuesday and then later 17 locations with “water buffalos,” as well as 14 for porta johns, established by the mid-afternoon.

The situation became so dire that by about 4:20 p.m., the Hoboken University Medical Center announced that they were evacuating non-emergency patients to their other two CarePoint facilities – Christ Hospital in Jersey City and the Bayonne Medical Center – as well as the Jersey City Medical Center for pregnant patients.

Veolia had announced that the water main break had been isolated about an hour later and the city said in a Nixle alert that they would be handing out bottled water between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

In an earlier Nixle update, Mayor Ravi Bhalla indicated that residents should expect to be without running water through Wednesday morning and also vowed to hold the contractor accountable.

“While Hoboken appreciates the upgrades to Hoboken’s gas infrastructure, this type of accident is inexcusable. Hoboken will conduct a thorough investigation to determine all relevant facts from the water main break,” he wrote.

“Given the costs incurred and major frustrations we have all experienced due to this major disruption in service, we will hold all responsible parties accountable to the greatest extent possible.”

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